In an interview with Defensehere.com at the 54th Paris Air Show, Olivier Lequeux, Turret Marketing Director of Nexter Systems which is a company of KNDS, discussed the company's new turret, RapidFire 40mm gun system with LMM - Lightweight Multirole Missile.
According to KNDS web portal, in 2015, Nexter and Krauss Maffei Wegmann (KMW), systems designer and integrator of the Leclerc and Leopard MBT, joined forces as KNDS to become the European company in land defense. This marriage unites the strengths and know-how of the two groups to better address the export markets in the face of increasingly active competition and meet the needs of the French and German armies.
KNDS forms a group of around 8,270 employees, with an annual turnover of 2.4 billion euro and an order backlog of around 10.6 billion euro. Its product range includes main battle tanks, armored vehicles, artillery systems, weapons systems including robotics, ammunition, military bridges, customer services, battle management systems, training solutions, protection solutions and a wide range of equipment.
In the interview, Olivier Lequeux, Turret Marketing Director of Nexter Systems which is a company of KNDS, talked about the RAPIDFire System.
"The RAPIDFire System, in fact, is the result of a very long history and long road map of a different step. In particular, 15 years ago, we had the first walk in to define a new system against drones and air targets. In 2012, we made some trials in the south of France." he revealed. "It was the first trials against the drones. We hit directly the Banshee drone at 2.2 km. The advantage of these trials, in fact, it was a confirmation about the accuracy and precision of the 40 CTA cannon."
The systems' background
"The 40 CTA cannon is a new cannon developed 25 years ago by a joint venture between BAE Systems and Nexter at the beginning. Because the new name of Nexter is now KNDS. KNDS is a new brand for KMW and Nexter due to the objective to have one ambition on one team together." he reminded.
"The RAPIDFire System is an opportunity for KNDS to introduce a new version, in fact, because about this program, we signed the contract with the French Navy two years ago. And we delivered the first serial system several months ago on the BRF Jacques Chevallier, a tankship, a tanker in fact. And it's the main armament of this ship." Lequeux said.
"For us, the next step will be very important because it will be the fourth of July with the first firing on this boat in the south of France. And after that this boat will begin a very long trip around the world with an opportunity for KNDS and Thales to promote this turret." he highlighted.
"The RAPIDFire, in fact, is the project managed by Nexter and Thales or KNDS and Thales. Thales is in charge of the sight of the firing computer dedicated against air targets. In other word, it is already a new turret, is a digital turret where it will be possible to identify the type of target, and to propose directly the policy of firing. That is already completely new. Because it will be possible to manage up to 7 targets in the same time. On the computer, we have this capacity to propose the best policy offering in the aim to maximize the probability of kill of the target." Lequeux revealed.
"The first parameter is in fact the turret plus the sight. The advantage of the sight directly on turret is the best way to manage the parallax between the line of sight on the line of the canon." he said. "
Regarding the radar of the turret, he said that "After that it's possible to had this the option turret radar, X-band the radar made by Thales with the capacity to detect all targets up to 30 kilometers."
Missile: The LMM of Thales
"Last evolution is to add a missile. Why? In fact, because the medium caliber will fire on the future position of the target. That's why, again, cooperative targets, it will be the best system due to the cost of kill, in fact, of this system. But if you want to engage a non-cooperative target, it's a good thing to have a missile." he said.
Regarding the missile of the system he elaborated that "The LMM missile (Thales) was normal for this evolution. Because the next step, in the future, will be to have a guided ammunition. We made some trials several years ago with the dart. In fact, from the STARStreak missile. In the aim to demonstrate the capacity to had the laser beam riding system inside of the sight."
"The LMM missile is based exactly on the same technology. That's why it's an opportunity for us to install laser beam riding system directly inside of the sight. That's why we have no problem of that. Because we include this topic of this object is very early in the development." he revealed.
The lesson learned in Karabag and in Ukraine
"For us, the first step is the contract for the French Navy. The second step will be for the long forces. You will see inside a very small mockup about this system on the new MK2 Caesar. We developed it for the new version of the MK2 Caesar vehicle for the French Army on export market." he said.
"Because this type of solution is a very good answer against the new threat, the new air threat, in particular the lesson learned in Karabag and in Ukraine at this time, with the risk to have not only one target but several target is the same time where it will be very difficult to have the good shield against this sort of the arrow." he stressed.
The main difference of the RAPIDFire
"The main difference with our competitors. Clearly it's the first point is the fully electrically driven cannon. That's why you have a very high level of free ability." he highlighted. "If you are an expert, you will recognize very easily this new architecture. Because the advantageous to have the cannon in a pod. Because, it is the best way to improve a lot reliability."
"40 CTE cannon is a very particular cannon. Because, we load the ammunition exactly at 80 degrees of the line of the cannon." Lequeux explained. "The advantage is that we have no constraint about the elevation of the cannon, and, the auto loader of the system."
Firing speed and ammuniton
Regarding the RAPIDFire system's firing speed, he revealed that it capable of reaching up to 200 rounds per minute. Also, in terms of ammunition capacity, the turret can accommodate between 70 and 140 ready-to-fire rounds, with additional storage available within the turret structure. "Another point, the shape of the ammunition is very easy to manipulate. That's why inside, we'll have on the ammunition link system, load of ammunition where it will be possible to select directly the right ammunition against the right threat." Lequeux elaborated.
Regarding the systems' diameter, Lequeux said that "This diameter, 40 millimeter, it's in us to to have smart ammunition on in particular econometric fuse inside of the ammunition. That's why you will have an airbirth ammunition."
"Against drones, you can imagine the advantage of that because it will be not necessary to hit directly the target. But it's just necessary to fire very close of the target. It will be in us." he said.
"You can imagine tomorrow to have guided ammunition directly in the aim to engage non-cooperative targets. And that's why, you will have something why it will be possible to engage all sort of targets, rockets, missiles, aircrafts, helicopters, drones. It's an all in one solution, if you would like to have missiles or radar. In the end, to have all the weather system thats why is the best proposal available in the world at this time." Olivier Lequeux, Turret Marketing Director of Nexter Systems, concluded.